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Jean Aitchison

Linguistics: An Introduction

When I started reading this book I realised that there is a lot more to linguistics than I had thought. Apparently I had a very 'Victorian' view, expecting the book to be principally about the comparison of words in different languages and the history of how these words developed, although I realised that the work of Chomsky in the last half century would also play a major part. But this book shows that there is a lot more to it than that, with chapters on sound patterns, the positioning of words in sentences and the relationship between syntax and semantics as well as the psychology and sociology of language. It would suit anyone looking for a broad overview of this subject.

On the other hand, I did feel that there are probably books more suited to my idea of linguistics. This book gives a lot of space to considerations of word order, but very little to comparisons between different languages. Indeed most of the examples are in English, and if felt the book could just as well be aimed at students of English as students of linguistics. However, there is an extensive list of further reading, so this book will be a useful resource even for those looking for something more specific.